A Great Conference — especially on the fringe

October 2010 - At Boris Johnson's Party Conference Reception with the delightful Bryony Gordon, who writes for the Telegraph

I had a good couple of days in Birmingham.  Emma and I met Boris Johnson on the Sunday evening at his reception, sponsored by canary Wharf.  And for the first time I met the delightful Bryony Gordon, the Telegraph columnist — and got a photograph with her (I’ve been a big fan for ages).  That picture, and many more Conference pics, are on my web-site at http://www.rogerhelmer.com/newphotoalbum7.asp
 
The Freedom Zone (TFZ):  This was the third year for The Freedom Association’s Freedom Zone, this time in Austin Court, right adjacent to (but outside) the security cordon.  Every year it’s bigger and better.  It was opened by John Redwood.   And of course we had all the good guys — ConHome, Taxpayers’ Alliance, Big Brother Watch, and so on.  TFZ is rapidly gaining a reputation on the conservative wing of the Conservative Party as “The Real Conference”, where lively debate and challenging opinions rule — in contrast to the anodyne and carefully sanitised speeches in the main auditorium (which I didn’t visit at all this time).
 
My fringe with Nirj Deva MEP:  On Tuesday 5th Nirj Deva and I had a fringe meeting in TFZ on the European Diplo Service (EEAS) — one of the great concessions which the Coalition has made to Brux.  It was very kindly chaired by David Nuttall MP, the very sound new MP for Bury North.  Essentially we made the points I covered above.  I recounted the story of how in July Nirj and I had been stunned to find we were whipped to vote for the EEAS — despite having been elected on an explicit Manifesto Commitment to oppose it.
 
The problems of “Greenmailing”:  On the 6th I was a late substitute chairman (for Simon Richards who had conference flu) on a TFZ/TPA fringe on “Greenmailing” — the outrageous pressures that are put on businesses and academics and citizens in pursuit of the discredited theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  We had Matt Sinclair of TPA, excellent as always, but I was delighted to find that the other speaker was James (Jim) Roberts, Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington (and so a colleague of my former staffer Sally McNamara).  Jim has been with them just a few years, editing their hugely authoritative “Index of Global Freedom”, but previously he spent 25 years with the State Department.  In the course of this work he’s seen the damage that doctrinaire green regulation is doing across the globe — including the Third World.  A sparkling session — I rather abused the Chairman’s prerogative by chipping in too frequently.  But then it is my specialist subject.
 
The David Davis Fringe:  David’s TFZ fringe was packed out, with people sitting on the floor and the stairs.  He started by reminding us of the news coverage of recent sibling rivalry — brothers competing to lead their party.  And the contest won by the youngest — a virtual unknown.  Just about all we can say about him is that his father was a Marxist.  Then he added “I am speaking, of course, about North Korea”.
 
The TFA Dinner:  The TFA organised a dinner on the Tuesday evening at the end of their two-day mega-fringe event, at the Bluu (sic) Brasserie.  Hat-Tip to Jane Broadhurst and Christiana Hambro of TFA for their Sterling work on the dinner — and on the whole show.  This really was the Conservative wing of the Conservative Party.  I sat opposite Sajid Javid, the extremely impressive new MP for Bromsgrove.  What a good man.  We enjoyed a rousing address from Matthew Elliott of TPA (why are they all called Matthew, by the way?).

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